What is EV Mode in a Hybrid?

The first time that I had seen the EV mode in my hybrid during a test drive, I was not 100 percent on the true meaning.  I had assumed that it might that the car was operating in the electric version.  I was incorrect.

What is the meaning of the EV mode for a hybrid? The EV mode for a hybrid car is the Electric Mode.  It means that the vehicle is currently using only electric power to run. If the vehicle were to switch to its combustion engine, the EV light on the dashboard would not be illuminated.

How to Turn on a Hybrid in EV Mode

Since I have a Hyundai model of hybrid, I will explain how to turn on a hybrid in the electric vehicle (EV) mode.

There is a button between the seats that is called HEV.  BY pressing this button you can switch between the electric CD mode and the hybrid CS mode.  CD stands for charge depleting electric mode which means that the high voltage hybrid battery is used to drive the vehicle.

CS stands for the charge-sustaining mode.  This mode also uses the hybrid battery but along with the combustion engine which means that you will be using gas.


How do you tell which mode you are in presently? If you are in the electric mode, you will see EV on the dashboard.

Turning on a Toyota Hybrid in EV Mode

Not all models of Toyota have the ability to switched to electric vehicle mode, but some have that function.  When activated, the hybrid battery and the electric motor are used.  This is great for locations where you do not wish to emit exhaust fumes.  For instance, if you are driving from level to level at the airport looking for a parking space, you should ensure that you are in EV mode as a courtesy to others.  Just imagine the amount of fume that is emitted for others to enjoy while dragging large suitcases towards the exits.

If the hybrid battery charge is too low, your Toyota will turn off the EV mode and you will be in hybrid mode.  You will notice the EV indicator on the dashboard will flash and then turn off.  Nevertheless, in this mode, the regenerative braking will kick in which will start to charge the hybrid battery so that the vehicle will have the ability to switch back to the EV Mode.

I suggest that you click here to view my article on how a hybrid charges its battery which also explains how regenerative braking works.

Another car manufacturer that has hybrid models is Lexus.  I will explain how to use the EV mode for the Lexus CT200h.

There is a button called EV Mode that is beside the push button for the multi-mode selector. Once you have engaged EV, there will be an indication that it has been engaged on the dashboard.  Nevertheless, you will need to stay below 25 miles an hour in order to ensure that EV does not turn itself off.

I found this above information for a car that was from 2013.  My present car, 2018 Sonata does not switch off of at 25 miles an hour, I can actually travel double that speed before it turns the EV mode.  The trick is to gently increase your speed instead of pushing the pedal to the medal like some of us do with a car that is non-electric.

Nevertheless, if you are going up a steep hill, it is likely that the combustion engine will kick in to give you that extra power that you cannot get solely the electric motor.

Why Does My Hybrid Sometimes Not Start Up in EV Mode

I have a sonata plug-in hybrid, and at first, I was having trouble starting the engine in the EV or electric vehicle mode.  Since I hade purchased this vehicle in the month of November, when it was cold outside, the gas motor seemed to turn on right away.  If your car is cold inside, the ICE ( internal combustion engine) will go to idle so that you can warm up the interior.  This, of course, will make it seem as if the car is being started using the ICE.

Here is a trick that I use to start my hybrid during cold weather without using the combustion engine:

  1. Turn on the seat warmer
  2. Turn on the heat for the steering wheel
  3. Make sure that you do not turn on the heater

I know that you are probably thinking that this a silly tactic to ensure that the EV mode is used initially, but it works.  You are not going to freeze to death.  We have to stop babying ourselves when we do any winter driving.  You can turn on the heater in a few minutes after the car is somewhat warmed up because of your body heat combined with the heat radiating from the steering wheel and the driver’s seat.

Something else that you need to be aware of is that when you first start up your hybrid, make sure that you do not take off in a big rush by slamming down the pedal.  I have a friend that does so with his hybrid and without fail, the combustion engine kicks in because of the need for super-quick acceleration.  It is much cheaper to keep your car in EV mode since electricity is so much cheaper than gas.

What is displayed when the EV mode is off on a hybrid car?

If you disengage the EV mode, the indicator for EV will disappear from your dashboard.  Now, instead of using the electric motor, your car will be using the combustion engine.  Something that I have noticed is that you can see the EV mode and the ECO mode on the dashboard at the same.

I have read many articles that state that ECO is only to be used when the EC mode is not turned on.  This is true in a sense since the EV already tends to make the accelerator less sensitive.  This reduction in the accelerator response is the main feature of the ECO mode.

Nevertheless, if you were to turn off the EV mode while the ECO is lite, the ECO mode will ensure that you do not over accelerate. A calmer use of the accelerator will help you to save on fuel while in the non-EV mode.

Is it best to Stay In EV mode as much as possible?

I try to stay in the EV mode as much as possible with my Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid.  I would much rather use electricity to power it.  I do most of my driving in a city setting so staying in the EV is easy to accomplish.

If you are living in an area that has a lot of hills, then staying constantly in the EV mode is going to be hard to accomplish.  Your combustion engine will kick in when you are climbing a hill.  Nevertheless, on the descent, you will charge up your battery pack somewhat due to regenerative braking.

How to stay in EV mode as much as possible in a hybrid car

There are several tactics that you can employ to maintain the EV Mode:

  1. Do not accelerator too quickly.  Just slowly increase your speed. You are not on a race track. There is no need to get to your full speed within seconds.
  2.  If you drive in a city setting daily, make sure that you plug in your hybrid when at home.  I have noticed that my hybrid tends to turn off the EV mode if the electric batteries are at less than 15 percent.
  3. Try to initiate generative braking as much as possible.  I used to feel that it was pointless to creep ahead a few feet to reduce the space between your car and the car in front of you while waiting at a stop light, now I cannot wait for the chance to do so.  If you are able to move ahead slightly just by taking your foot off of the brake pedal, do so.  As you slowly inch head without using the accelerator pedal, you are charging the electric battery pack. This is going to allow you to stay in EV mode even longer since the charge will decrease at a slower rate.

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